Business & Tech

Boston AI startup Neurala sets up shop in the Seaport

About 25 employees work at Neurala, chief executive Max Versace said, with a goal of employing 40 by the end of the year.
Kayana Szymczak/New York Times/File 2017
About 25 employees work at Neurala, chief executive Max Versace said, with a goal of employing 40 by the end of the year.

Boston-based artificial intelligence startup Neurala Inc. raised $14 million in January. Now, the company has decided to spend its hard-earned equity funding in the Seaport.

Neurala just moved into an 8,000-square-foot spot at 51 Sleeper St., from a much smaller space in Boston University’s Photonics Center. About 25 employees work at Neurala, chief executive Max Versace said, with a goal of employing 40 by the end of the year.

Versace was attracted to the idea of helping to build a robotics cluster in the area. The new MassRobotics co-working space is on Channel Street, autonomous cars are being tested nearby, and Rethink Robotics is a couple of blocks away.

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General Electric’s temporary headquarters is also around the corner, and the industrial giant expects to eventually host a small army of software developers and engineers after its new headquarters opens down the street.

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“There’s almost a 1-mile ring around South Station where there is a lot going on with customers [and] venture partners,” Versace said.

Most of the equity funding is being spent on staff, he said. Among the newcomers to the crew: Neurala investor Warren Katz is joining as the firm’s president.

Neurala aims to put its software in the “brains” of a wide range of machines, from collision-avoidance software in cars to drones that could inspect power plants and cellphone towers. For example, Motorola Solutions has tapped Neurala to use its software in body cameras worn by police.

Versace’s ambitious goal: to become one of the largest AI firms in Boston, if not the largest.

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“We want to become the reference point in Boston for AI,” Versace said. “We don’t want to lose [Boston’s] leading position, that the rest of the world is trying to take from Boston.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.